Quietly covering the consequences on curriculum learning
A feature of schools’ working this week has been a focus on post-pandemic learning recovery. We have seen actions at many levels, from whole school, cross-school levels down to individual interventions. Most has been without fanfare, but all are worth a mention, as together they how the range and intent of what school systems are doing and planning to do.
Summer schools – Secondary schools (and Colleges) are being extra-funded to offer summer schools. Locally Secondary schools are looking at offering something to EVERY Year 6 pupil just before they start their Year 7 first term.
Catch-up funding and Recovery funding – all schools have been allocated additional funding to help children catch up expected positions on their earning progress. We spent much of the first tranche on providing more extensive remote learning and ensuring it was a robust provision. We tried to keep the ‘lost learning’ and low as possible. We are already spending the second phase of money (we haven’t received it yet, don’t actually know how much it will be, and have been told by DfE that we can carry it forward to next academic year if we need to) on additional in-school teacher time. This is releasing our own teachers, rather than buying in external tutors, so they can run activities such as writing workshops with identified pupils.
We have run our usual termly assessment process, and analysed the collected data. It shows many positives and a couple of totally predictable challenges: reading and maths have held up well during remote learning, but writing less so. There is a significant gender gap in attainment in both reading and writing, and our efforts so far do not appear to have narrowed those gaps. Each of the school’s year leaders has planned actions to tackle some of this, in a reasonable period of time. The English leadership group are also working through their action plan.
At Headteacher level we shared some observations from this data analysis (not individual or confidential) with other schools’ leaders. The discussions showed similar pictures elsewhere, and a caution in acting too swiftly – many school leaders are not sure what the impact has been and so are not rushing to initiate actions.
We held our spring term parent consultations this week – week 2 of the summer term. Any earlier and we would not have had much to share since the full return of all pupils. Not hold them at all and we could not share with parents and aid partnerships.
We talked at senior leadership level about the barriers to intervention – lack of spaces in which to work with children being the greatest issue.
This half term’s Public Health briefing for school leaders had some questions answered about possibilities for end of year activities – things like Prom and final assembly, picnics, day trips, sports days and so on. PH were not keen on guessing what changes, if any, might come from DfE at the next two points of relaxation of Covid restrictions. In fact, they cautioned that mitigations might have to be in place until October and beyond. And at the same time, the very, very low level of risk or transmission at outdoor activities was reaffirmed. So Sports Day is likely to be on, with parents invited but asked to spread out. Year 6 final assembly might take place, but not in the usual all-in-at-the-same-time way. Edale Y6 Residential preparations can continue, but is set between conflicting guidance of DfE and SCC. We wait on this one.
There was a strategy meeting with LearnSheffield on Year 2 / Year 3 (Infant to Junior School) transition processes. There is uncertainty about risk assessments and mitigations that might be necessary in June and July, but we have to get on with planning such activity now – we can do these things very late in the term but it is not the best or preferred way. It is simply a case of whether our staff can teach their own class in the morning session and then all of them teach other classes (their 2021 / 2022 classes) in the afternoon session. If this is unnecessary mixing and contact then it should not happen. Someone high up has to decide if it is ‘necessary’ or not, or whether it poses a too high a risk or not.
Reports – we will be writing annual reports almost as usual. Leaders agreed a tiny change to the format, with another code added in to show what teaching was done during Remote Learning. As cannot be sure how well children engaged at that time nor how well they picked up the taught curriculum. Our assessments in those areas will show this, informing parents and subsequent teachers.
And a final example – a conversation has started about school start time, staggered arrival, gate opening times and getting going with teaching d learning every day. At some point, possibly very soon, we will be making the statement that school starts at 08:45 each day and we will ask parents to ensure we can start promptly again.
A broad response I think, and yet not covering everything that has changed or been effected. There will be more to consider in the months to come.
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